Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

If you’ve been itching to get your hands on Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, now is the perfect time! Released on July 9th, 2019, Spin the Dawn is not only the Indigo Teen Staff Pick of the Month for August, but it is also a stunning read!

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review. 

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job. Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise. And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

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Marketed as Mulan meets Project Runway, Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim is a sweeping fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars. Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of the genre!

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Maia and Edan are both fantastic characters in their own right, and this story is undoubtedly one where the woman is powerful, motivated, and self-sacrificing. Maia Tamarin is born onto the pages of Spin the Dawn fully realized, knowing she is a masterful tailor, but unsure of her place in a world where a woman cannot be a tailor. Then, as she navigates her ruse, the politics of court, and later the dangers of the world, she grows into a more mature woman, her view of the world becoming disillusioned with each trial she faces. Edan, for his part, doesn’t necessarily grow much as a character, but the story does reveal significant information about his personality, his past, and his powers. Finally, the side characters, such as Maia’s father, her brother Keton, Lady Sarnai, and Emperor Khanujin. While all played integral roles in the plot, their characters were not very well developed. While this lack of development did not negatively impact the plot, it does leave the reader wondering about their motivations – especially those of the Emperor and Lady Sarnai. Overall, Maia and Edan were compelling characters, their journey engaging, and the relationship heart-wrenching.

“Seize the wind. Don’t become the kite that never flies.” – Elizabeth Lim, Spin the Dawn

If the characters don’t hook the reader, Lim’s exquisite writing most certainly will. Like Maia’s masterful weaving, sewing, and stitching, Lim spins a fantastical tale of magic, mystery, and danger. Spin the Dawn itself is split into three part – The Trial, The Journey, and The Oath. The Trial and The Journey take up most of the book, with The Oath wrapping up the events of the previous two sections. And while The Trial – wherein Maia competes against the other tailors for the role of Imperial Tailor – and The Oath – wherein Maia and Edan deal with the fallout of their journey – held my attention enraptured without pause, The Journey did leave something to be desired. While integral to the plot, it was difficult to stay focused on the arbitrary travelling to set goals. Despite this, Lim’s writing never ceases to be beautiful and lyrical. But most importantly, Spin the Dawn had such a clear focus, such a clear goal. The narrow scope allowed Lim to weave a powerful story with a distinct plot, which resulted in a powerful and beautiful story.

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Finally, Lim’s storytelling and compelling characters come together to create a heart-wrenching, steamy, and dangerous romance. Reminiscent of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness, Maia and Edan must keep their budding feelings for one another a secret. This results in a slow-burning relationship, and an increasingly dangerous dance as their friendship begins to draw unwanted attention. Readers who enjoy a slow-burning romance, and the intrigue of secret trysts and the angst that goes along with it, will undoubtedly fall head over heels for Maia, Edan, and the relationship that blossoms between them.

“I want you to know that some journeys have ends, but not this one. This one will change you. Irrevocably.” – Elizabeth Lim, Spin the Dawn

Overall, Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim was a daring a beautiful and powerful masterpiece of storytelling. With compelling characters, a beautiful story, and an engaging romance, Spin the Dawn is not to be missed (4.5/5).

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